After a long night trying to get our toddler to go to sleep, he apologizes to us by waking up at 7:00am instead of his usual 6-6:30am wake up time. He is officially forgiven for the strain he caused last night. I go into his room, turn on the lights, and give him a big kiss. “Good morning! Let’s get changed.” He’s up later than usual so I bring with me one of my homemade mini-muffins and milk so that I can get him changed while he has something to eat. I’ve got a half hour to get him dressed and out the door to take him to daycare and get me to work. But we hit a snag. I’ve given him the wrong milk cup. It’s not his green dinosaur cup, it’s his yellow ninja turtle cup. My mistake. And this mistake is the cause of the meltdown-morning we ended up having. Wow, it sure is amazing how things can go from good to bad so quickly in a toddler’s life.
When he notices that the cup it is not his dinosaur cup, he looks at me like I’ve insulted him. How dare you! He has recently developed a love for dinosaurs and I thought getting him The Good Dinosaur sippy cups would make him happy, and it did. But he’s grown attached to the green one with the tyrannosaurus rex on it and wants nothing else. He yells and screams and begs and pleads for his dinosaur milk. The whole time that I’m changing him – from diaper to socks to pants to shirt – he is yelling and crying for his dinosaur cup “I want dinosaur milk!”
The noise is getting to me and I feel like maybe switching cups isn’t such a big deal. Maybe I should just get him his dinosaur cup so that I don’t have to listen to this incessant crying and screaming anymore and we can go back to having a good morning. But I stop myself. I think: If I switch the cups now, I’m teaching him that if he shouts like a mad-man, he gets what he wants. No, I can’t have this. I can’t have this in my life forever. I can barely deal with this behaviour now and I certainly do not want it sticking around. So, while it’s generally not a big deal to switch the cups, it becomes one when he’s behaving like his world has fallen to pieces. If he had asked for the dinosaur cup instead of freaked out right away, then I would have gladly changed the cups. But he is two-and-a-half and his irrational mind in the morning tells him to freak out and not ask.
I don’t give in and I finish dressing him despite the fight. We go to the front to put on our boots and jackets, except now he is throwing his boots across the hall and taking off his jacket, all while screaming “dinosaur milk!” While I yell and curse in my head, I calmly and silently pick him up along with his boots, jacket, hat, blanket, milk, and muffin and I take him and all his things to the car. I throw everything in the car and I strap him in his car-seat. At this point, the crying has subsided and he has moved on to whining. Still not great, but it’s an improvement from the eardrum-bursting sounds he was making in the house. I feel like he is starting to give up. He’s realizing that he isn’t getting that green dinosaur cup.
The second I get into the front seat, everything has stopped. He is no longer whining and he’s sitting there looking at me. It’s as if the tantrum never happened. Am I imagining things? I pass him his milk and mini-muffin and he happily takes them, as if it’s the first time this morning that I’ve presented them to him. He smiles, says thank you, and proceeds to drink the milk out of the yellow ninja turtle cup. This is the point where I realize I won the battle. A win for mommy! No doubt this will happen again, but if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that I can win a battle with a stubborn and strong-willed toddler.